Category: News

Autoscribe was founded in 1981 as a word processing bureau from which its name originates. In those early years’ computers and software were still in their infancy, and word processing was still very often outsourced. Expanding on this theme other scientific software packages originating in the USA were sold into the UK market. These included one of the very early chemical structure drawing packages, with the ability to embed structures and reactions in word processed documents, thus building on the word processing business.

The founder, John Boother, is a qualified analytical chemist who had worked in sales for Beckman Instruments as the European Manager for Laboratory Automation. With deep knowledge of seeing how multiple laboratories worked he saw the importance of laboratory management and automation systems. Realizing a gap in the market for a PC based LIMS, which were expanding furiously in the mid-1980s, John was keen to expand the Autoscribe operation into this market.

This coincided with big changes in the laboratory industry, and the instruments used, with computers still in their infancy. Taking advantage of these early Windows based personal computers (PCs) Matrix LIMS was born. The first release of Matrix LIMS occurred in 1988. Initially developed by Harley Systems, Autoscribe re-sold Matrix LIMS on an agency basis. In December 1993 Autoscribe bought the rights to the Matrix LIMS product and introduced in-house software development. At that point just 5 people were involved in the Autoscribe business in the UK. From those early days the software has been continually developed to utilise the latest technology, and extended to meet the needs of increasingly sophisticated laboratories and the measurement testing they must perform daily.

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Today Autoscribe has expanded beyond the UK to have offices in the USA and Australia, as well as distributors across Europe, Africa, South America and Asia, making it a truly global organization. Despite this Autoscribe still has a family feel.

Many of the early Autoscribe customers are still clients today albeit using the latest versions of the software. The heart of this success is a LIMS that enables configuration via built-in configuration tools, allowing the system to be optimized to the exact needs of every laboratory, without the need for programming skills. While most LIMS require software code changes (in C#, Java or HTML) to change the screens within the LIMS, Matrix Gemini LIMS allows these changes to be made using the configuration tools. This allows clients to easily change the system to suit their needs while preserving the ability to upgrade to new versions of the software as released. One unique feature of the Autoscribe approach is that customer changes to a Matrix system by their trained staff using the configuration tools are supported within the annual support agreement. This approach means that system changes, support of those changes and upgrades are easily achieved.

Autoscribe was the first company to introduce genuine configuration capabilities to LIMS software and to this day it continues to be a key differentiator when systems are compared. Removing the need to configure using software code, fully supporting all configuration changes made by customers themselves, and maintaining the ability to upgrade between versions by keeping configuration and the underlying software separate, provide clear benefits for ease of use and return on investment for Matrix LIMS customers.

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Over the period of time since 1993 there have been three complete re-writes of the Matrix system from the ground up in order to take advantage of new technologies and technical capabilities. Throughout we have provided these upgrades, at no software cost, to our existing customers having a support agreement in place.

Today Autoscribe Informatics employs 55 people dedicated to the LIMS business and it is still a family business with three generations of the Boother family involved. There are also colleagues who have contributed substantially to the success of the company over this time and significant thanks and recognition must go to them for their individual and collective achievements.

The 40-years have gone quickly and have included some significant achievements, but most importantly the company has strived to keep our customers happy with both our software solution and our overall service commitment.

The Autoscribe motto:
“Big enough to deliver but small enough to care”
Is still as absolutely relevant to-day as it was in the past.

By John Boother